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Hardball With Chris Matthews

News/Business. Leaders and newsmakers debate political issues. (CC)

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Lawrence 12, Msnbc 11, Us 11, Max Baucus 10, Baucus 6, Washington 6, Bill Clinton 5, John Edwards 5, Spiriva 5, Montana 5, Orbitz 4, Sarah Palin 4, Obama 3, Michael Duffy 3, Chuck Todd 3, Culberson 3, Grassley 3, Mickey Kaus 3, John Culberson 3, Palin 3,
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  MSNBC    Hardball With Chris Matthews    News/Business. Leaders and  
   newsmakers debate political issues. (CC)  

    August 14, 2009
    5:00 - 6:00pm EDT  

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picture." >> president obama always a politician. he thought he looked good in the suit. >> he's telling the truth. another day, another health care town hall for president obama. saturday, in fact, will mark the president's third town hall event just this week alone. >> let's get right to our next read on politics with the stories we will be watching heading into tomorrow. mark murray is deputy political director for nbc news. mark, what do you have for us? >> hey, david and tamron. president obama tomorrow will have a rare weekend public event when he holds yet another town hall. this one in grand junction, colorado. he'll be on the subject of health care, and also on health care on sunday "meet the press" will have an entire round table consisting of tom armey, tom daschle, and rachel maddow. and then we will turn to foreign policy and national security issues on monday when he addresses the veterans of
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foreign wars. >> what did you make of the president's town hall this afternoon? >> i thought it was fascinating and fascinating tv. one takeaway i had was yours. all the mentions of max baucus. it's very, very likely it's going to have to be a partisan bill on that senate finance committee, particularly with a lot of things that chuck grassley, the republican from iowa, has said on health care. if it's going to be a partisan bill, president obama needs the support from max baucus, and we saw a lot of cover and a lot of love from that senator. the other takeaway, just the back and forth. randy, then ra pers-- the nra p but also the vilification of the insurance industry. >> mark, great stuff as always. make sure to check out first read first thing every morning. check back often. just logon to firstread.msnbc.com. tamron, what's the name of our facebook page? >> david -- tamron hall and david shuster.
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>> there we go. >> that would be our names. that does it for tamron hall as my name is. >> and i'm david shuster. "hardball" starts right now. going west to save health care reform. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm lawrence o'donnell in new york in for chris matthews. leading off tonight, on the road again. with polls showing support for health care reform slipping, president obama hit the road again. this time in belgrade, montana. the crowd was much friendlier than those rowdy town halls we've seen from members of congress, but the president finally did get a couple of questions that were not complete softballs. chuck todd joins us in a moment from montana. plus, you know those end of life counseling provisions in the health care bills which republicans like sarah palin have distorted into death
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panels? well, it turns out that republicans like sarah palin were actually for end of life counseling before they were against it. that's just one of the inconsistencies we'll discuss with an opponent of reform, republican congressman john culberson of texas joining us in a moment. also, how far has he fallen? 24r is a report that john edwards is about to finally admit that he is, indeed, the father of his mistress' child. so where would we be if edwards had not been so decisively rejected by wise democratic primary voters last year? plus, bill clinton has some tough words for the netroots crowd on don't ask, don't tell. that's in "the politics fix." and what does it mean to be palinized? just ask someone who says it could easily happen to her. minnesota congresswoman michele bachmann. the definition coming up in the "hardball sideshow." but first, president obama
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and his latest push for health care reform. nbc news chief white house correspondent chuck todd is traveling with the president and is joining us now from montana. chuck, by my count there were two questions that were not complete softballs in there today. how do these audiences for the president get selected and how is that different from how the audiences show up at the town halls for the congressmen and senators we've been seeing? >> well, look, there are a few more hoops you have to jump through to go to a presidential town hall and considering security and all these things, you would assume there should be extra hoops. for this one, however, they did it a little differently. they actually handed tickets out in person out in bozeman two to a customer essentially until they ran out. so, you know, it's more likely a supporter is going to want to get in line early, be like -- being like an old-fashioned rock concert where you might even sleep overnight to get your ticket than an opponent.
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with these congressional town halls, as you know, lawrence, it's a lot easier to get in because you don't really have to worry about registering in advance or getting a ticket in advance and all that. that's why i think there's been some difficulty for the white house to make sure they're getting a wide array, but as you pointed out, he got two, i think, pretty tough questions that he had to deal with, and i can tell you in speaking already with the nra member who asked a question, he was appreciative of the president's answer, but not yet satisfied. >> all right. let's listen to his question right now. >> okay. >> as you can see, i'm a proud nra member. i believe in our constitution and it's a very important thing. i also get my news from the cable networks because i don't like the spin that comes from them other places. >> you got to be careful about them cable networks though. that's okay. go on. >> max baucus, our senator, has been locked up in a dark room there for months now trying to come up with some money to pay
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for these programs, and we keep getting the bull. that's all we get is bull. you can't tell us how you're going to pay for this. you're saving here, you're saving over there, you're going to take a little money here, take a little money there, but you have no money. the only way you're going to get that money is to raise our taxes. you said you wouldn't. max baucus says he doesn't want to put a bill out that will, but that's the only way you can do that. >> well, i'm happy to answer the question. >> okay. thank you. >> look, you are absolutely right that i can't cover another 46 million people for free. >> chuck, what was -- you talked to the guy who asked that question. what was his dissatisfaction with the answer, which by the way went on for quite a while after that. >> it did, and what it is, it actually gets i think at the nut of what we're seeing in some of the polling with independents, essentially he doesn't necessarily believe that when government says they're going to save money on a program, that there's really going to be money
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saved from a program. and so, look, look at the history of government over the last 10, 12 years and maybe you do understand why some people might think that. you know, they see a lot of hype about, oh, they claim they're going to save money over here, but then they see waste over there. it's sort of a little bit of that disillusionment that some in the middle, and he was a mccain -- for what it's worth, he told us he was a mccain voter. said he wasn't happy about it. he drove 300 miles to come to this town hall. he goes, i think the president answered the question as best he could, and he believed the president was sincere in that he said he didn't want to raise taxes on middle class, but i think where the disbelief comes from is this idea, well, once government spends money, they never know how to save it ever that. that cynicism i think has been one of the great challenges this administration has had to deal with starting frankly with the bank bailouts lawrence. >> presidents don't go to montana very often. how much was this performance by
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the president for an audience of one, senator max baucus, chairman of the finance committee sitting up there on the stage. how much was this about president obama showing him, see, i can even sell this in your home state? >> can i tell you, i lost count at five references to max. it was always to max over here. you know, what max is doing over here. what max is trying to do. it was absolutely felt as if he was almost pitching baucus is little bit saying don't you worry, i'm not going to sell you out. you get me this bill, and yesterday -- you know, one of the pieces of news -- sometimes the white house makes news and they don't intend to. yesterday at a press briefing robert gibbs said when he was asked pointblank what deal did you make with pharma? what is pharma getting? what are we going to see that pharma gets and he said, well, look, it's going to be incorporated into the senate finance committee bill. well, what does that mean? it means that's the white house bill, lawrence. none of these other bills are
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going to be the white house bill. what max baucus is writing and the white house knows every word that max baucus is writing, that's going to be the bill, that's what they're going to sell. and i think you're right, that's why he was out here doing a little family vacation at the same time, but he's out here to send a message, not just to max baucus but actually the other four committee chairs by saying, look, max is writing the bill. >> you know, chuck, there's an old joke in washington, very old joke in washington that says, the definition of a quorum is the president of the united states and the chairman of the finance committee. they together can get anything done and having worked on the finance committee myself years ago i've always been predicting it comes down to this committee and really what baucus can get done, and so where do we go from here, chuck? i don't mean where does he literally go from here, but, okay, you've done the montana town hall. now you have the rest of this break to deal with here. what does the white house have planned? >> well, i think we've seen some
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incremental ideas of what's coming. they're setting themselves up to be able to support something that's a co-op for that whole idea of the public option so that they'll say the co-op will accomplish what his original goal was for the public option. i notice today the number went down on the cost of health care. these things don't happen by accident. he got down to $800 billion, $900 billion. remember it was about $1 trillion. now it's gone to $900 billion. now down to about $800 billion. they must know what the outlines are looking at. and i'll tem you one other thing, the white house is extremely confident they're going to pass something. i think they separate out the town hall madness right now. yes, that's a political fight, but that's a political fight they're going to have to fight frankly for the next three years because it's more than health care. the fight now is getting a bill passed, and i think they think they will get that done. >> thank you, chuck todd. it looks like you have to get on the plane, chuck. >> i guess so. all right, sir. >> thanks for joining us.
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joining me now in washington, "time" magazine bureau chief michael duffy. on this week's edition there's a story of how las vegas is gambling on a big comeback. michael duffy, barack obama is gambling on max baucus' ability to get him a bill that he can sign. how does that look as of today? >> well, you have to imagine, lawrence, that at some point the president and senator baucus did have a conversation about whether they do this in a bipartisan fashion here in the next 30 to 60 days or whether at some point they have to do it just with democrats. i suspect that conversation happened somewhere or is happening now, and that's a decision they don't have to make yet. i think everyone in that committee of two, which you just said was the most important, would like to do it with republicans. it's not clear they will be able to, and it looks like they're probably prepared to go it alone if they have to. >> well, obama must have asked max baucus today what do you make of these things chuck grassley has been saying in the
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town hall meetings? i think the most important thing grassley said, forget about the death panels reference, but what he said about having kept his finger in the dike, preventing legislation from going forward, and, therefore, allowing these protests to go on now is the most important thing he said. he didn't say he kept his finger in the dike in order to make the legislation better. what he wanted credit for from his iowa voters was, i slowed this down long enough for you to do these protests that you're doing now. that really has to worry both baucus and obama, doesn't it? >> he had a town hall today where he talked about i'm going to vote against anything that is rationing. i'm going to vote against anything that's government-run. he had a whole list of things that he said to a town hall i think in winter set -- i can't remember where it was today. baucus and grassley have something very much in common, and you know this as a former finance committee guy, and that neither of their caucuses really want them to be talking to the other party. most of the democrats in the
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senate think baucus is nuts to be trying to do a deal with the republicans. i'm certain most of the republicans think grassley is kind of kooky to be still trying to cut a deal with the democrats. they're under huge pressure inside their own caucuses just to be doing this together. >> and it's always been that way. >> exactly. >> for the democrat and the senior republican on the finance committee, their caucus are always worried about them. let's listen to more about what president obama had to say today about the difficult history of trying to fix health care. >> the special interest fight back with everything they've got. they use their influence, they run their ads, and their political allies try to scare the heck out of everybody. it happened in '93. it's happening now. it happened, by the way, when lyndon johnson tried to propose medicare. it happened when john f. kennedy tried to propose medicare.
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we can't let them do it again. >> of course, michael, medicare ended up passing the senate with almost half of the republican votes in the senate. there were 68 democrats in the senate at the time. so it was a very different situation than he faces now. do they -- do they have some strategy for -- in the white house now about how to prevent this phenomenon that we've seen in polling, which is the more the president goes out there and talks about the plan, the more unpopular the plan becomes? this, by the way, mirrors exactly what happened to hillary clinton in 1994. >> yeah, it's one thing to actually go out and calm fears which they tried to do this week. it's another thing to convince a growing number of people, a lot of whom are independents and who wanted to give obama a chance, to get them over on the side of i'm for this. as other people have noted, i think the fear about health care reform is sort of a metaphor for fear about government spending, a fear about government takeovers, a fear about just the
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overall democratic agenda, and what we didn't hear today from obama was a real attempt to separate that out. today was really just about health care. he didn't say i'm going to deal with the deficits, i'm going to deal with that down the road. he didn't do that today. i was a little surprised when he was asked that question about are you going to raise our taxes that he didn't say i am concerned about the deficits and i'm going to have to fix that at some point. we all are, but he didn't disconnect them that way. so that's surprised me a little bit. maybe we'll see that in colorado at the next town hall. i think the range of questions, lawrence, showed us just how much of a selling job they still have to do. these were intel jeligent questions, they were personal questions, and it's difficult to get a good source of information on the answers. the only people who really know what's on that bill were on that stage. >> yeah, that's a good point. thank you, michael duffy. coming up, why are conservatives and republicans so adamantly opposed to the health care bill? we'll ask texas congressman john
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culberson. and watch "meet the press" this sunday. moderator will dick armey, tom coburn, tom daschle, and the host of msnbc's rachel maddow show. i'm going to let you figure out who that is. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. ever worn your clothes in the shower? if you're using other moisturizing body washes, you might as well be. you see, their moisturizer sits on top of skin,
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welcome back to "hardball." joining me now, republican congressman john culberson of texas. congressman culberson, let's listen to katey abram at senator specter's -- >> she's my hero.
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>> that's why i want you to listen to her. >> i don't believe this is just about health care. it's not about t.a.r.p. it's not about left and right. this is about the systematic dismantling of this country. i'm only 35 years old. i have never been interested in politics. you have awakened sleeping giants. we are tired of this. this is why everybody in this room is so ticked off. i don't want this country turning into russia, turning into a socialized country. my question for you is -- what are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created according to the constitution? >> congressman, you choose your heroes well. i have to tell you, i had her on this show the other day after she did that, and, you know, she doesn't do this kind of tv every
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day like you do, and i asked her exactly how would she want senator specter to answer that question? what would she want him to do to restore the country back to where she wanted it to be. what would be on your checklist. let me give you her question she said to specter. what are you going to do to restore the country back to what our founders created according to the constitution? what are the things in the government now, congressman culberson, that you would eliminate in order to do what katy wants? >> i have drafted legislation, lawrence, which i will file when congress reconvenes which will make all federal grant programs optional. the state legislatures would have to pass a law on a record vote and approve every single federal dollar with -- now -- >> grant programs are -- >> no, no, no, lawrence. >> let's get to the single biggest thing in the federal budget. what would you do about social security? i assume you would repeal it because that is socialism, isn't
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it? >> lawrence, let me tell you katy -- i'm answering your question. >> no, the question is, would you repeal social security? >> no, lawrence i'm answering your question because katy is asking what would we do in congress to restore the constitution. her question is there are $600 billion worth a year of grant program money going out the door every year law reps. that's big money -- >> nickels and dimes. >> that's real money. you're being argumentative, lawrence. >> tell me what you would do about social skurlt much it is socialism. it was imported from germany. it was bismarck's invention. fdr took it on. it is pure socialism. you must want to repeal it, don't you? >> the way the federal government has taken over -- >> you're not going to answer that. >> no, sir, if you want an answer -- >> do you want to repeal medicare? >> of course, no one in congress has suggested repealing ort social security or medicare. >> you don't want to go back to where the founding father were, do you? >> of course, i do.
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i'm a jeffersonian republican. >> did jefferson anticipate medicare or is that a socialistic invention of the 20th century? >> i guess you don't want me to answer the question. i'm a jeffersonian and a texan and i am answering your question. >> how can you accept medicare? is medicare socialism? >> i'm not sure you want me to answer the question, lawrence. >> a medicare socialism? can you say yes or no? is medicare socialism? >> of course not, it's a program that's been in place for many, many years. >> because it's old it's not socialism because it was done in the '60s. >> i think, lawrence -- for your listeners you're illustrating why msnbc's viewership is in the tank because you don't allow your people you're interviewing to answer questions. you know, lawrence, this is why katy and everybody else is going to facebook. everyone is going to the internet because why hisen to msnbc when you won't even let the people you're interviewing answer the question. >> yoment you to spin your time away. i want you to get serious, okay? >> i am serious, lawrence.
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you're not serious. you're trying to change the subject. >> if medicare is not socialism why don't we delete the over 65 part of medicare and make it available to everyone? what's your argument against that? >> no one has ever suggested repealing medicare or social security? >> why not? >> because if we're going to restore the country to the constitutional framework the founders gave us, lawrence, you have to start with the federal grant programs that sent $600 billion a year that are sent out the door every year to the states and once the states accept that money, lawrence, then the federal government has got its tentacles -- >> so you were there in 1935, you would have voted for social security, right? >> of course, in 1935 -- lawrence, it was designed -- >> didn't anyone tell you that. >> am i going to be able to give an answer here? do you wonder why nobody listens to msnbc? may i answer the question. >> we don't want to hear your endless spinning. >> it is not spinning.
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>> would you have voted for or against medicare. >> in 1935 social security was set up as a safety net as a last resort. therefore, of course it was there for people who -- my father who grew up in the depression, my dad told me without those safety nets, john, people just died. and that's unacceptable. >> that's right enacted by democratic presidents over the opposition of republican -- >> i know, your heroes, lawrence. i know that. >> was fdr wrong to enact -- >> i just told you, lawrence, if i were here in 1935, the very limited scope of social security as it was designed as a safety net of last resort, of course i would have supported that. >> how would you have voted in 1965 on medicare? >> i voted against -- i wasn't here in 1965 but i voted against the prescription drug -- >> congratulations. would you have voted against the invention of social security -- >> i'm not sure why you had me on today if you're going to do the whole show. i am giving you a serious answer to katy's very serious question. what will we do --
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>> if you answer whether -- just give me a yes or no or whether you would have voted for medicare and then you can talk for the rest of the segment. >> okay. yes. in 1965 medicare, if it was designed and i don't know how it was originally set out in '65, but i can tell you social security was a last resort in 1935. >> can we get a yes on medicare somewhere in there? was there a yes? >> medicare wastes a lot of money that -- >> you would have voted for it? >> medicare in 1965, lawrence, yes, i probably would have voted away. >> go ahead. spin away. >> thank you very much. we have a crisis of cost today, lawrence, and the cost of health insurance. this government, the new congress, the new president, has taken advantage of an economic crisis to, as the chief of staff of the president has said, to do as much as they can to not let a good crisis go to waste and they're attempting to exercise full government control over the entire health care system and that's what katy and the rest of
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us are objecting to. we know there's a crisis in cost, lawrence, and we on the fiscal conservative side simply want the focus on the crisis in cost -- >> congressman culberson, you know -- let's go to the crisis in cost. >> let's talk about that. >> now, you know that medicare is a completely government-run health care system. >> right. >> and yet you're saying you would have voted for it. >> and we today need to focus on eliminating the fraud, waste, and abuse in medicare today. >> let's do that. >> why don't we focus -- $1 in $3 spent 230r durable medical devices under medicare and medicaid are wasted over fraudulent. the scooters you see advertised, a lot of that is unnecessary and pushed on people in ways that are fraudulent. there's a new scheme in harris county to set up ambulance services to charge $500 to medicare to drive people to the doctor. focus first, lawrence, on eliminating the waste, fraud, and abuse. >> we agree on that. >> we agree on that. >> we want to get rid of the waste, fraud, and abuse. let me just get this straight.
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you would have voted in 1965 for a single payer government-run, totally government controlled health care system for people 65 and over. you said -- >> i'm not completely familiar with the way medicare was structured in '65. >> really? >> but i do know how social security was set up. i can tell you 1935, lawrence -- >> really? you know what happened in '35 but not '65. >> i'm more familiar with the way it was set up originally. >> but you're sure you would have voted for medicare -- >> lawrence we were in 2009 at a time of record debt and deficit. you won't even per mift the people you interview -- i'm here in good faith to offer and talk to you and your listeners about the fiscal conservatives in congress who are working hard to lay out -- >> congressman, here is my problem. >> to stop fraud. and to protect -- >> you lie to america about the evil -- >> excuse me? what. >> of government health care --
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>> lawrence you don't know who i am. >> -- is willing to repeal medicare. to stand up and be consistent and say, i hate government-run health care so i want to repeal med sar. instead, you go out and lie to medicare recipients that you're on their side and then you tell everyone else government-run health care is evil. >> lawrence, i'd suggest you don't -- lawrence, you don't know the first -- >> it's a lie you perpetrate every day -- >> do you wonder why no one watches msnbc? it's unbelievable. lawrence, do you wonder why nobody watches msnbc? you argue with me. you don't know who i am. you call me a liar on national television. >> yes. >> it's objectionable. it's offensive. >> you lie about government-run health care. >> you have never interviewed me, buddy. you don't know who i am, lawrence. >> you lie and pretend it's an evil for other people. >> my constituents are very happy with me. we're on the same page. we don't want the government or
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anybody else between me and my doctor. my constituent and i agree that we have the greatest hk system in the world and i'm going to fight to my last breath to protect andy anderson, to protect my constituents rights to make decisions about their health care with their doctor without interference from this government or congress or president and we want to control costs. we want to make health care affordable and available to small businesses, sole proprietors and individuals, but you do that by using common sense, fiscally conservative approaches that are just, you know, frankly common sense, and you protect the patient/doctor relationship. and that's something that my quaents and i agree on, lawrence. i have never -- you know and i have never even talked before. it's stunning to me that you would call me a liar on national television. you don't even know who i am. you never talked to me before, and i'm glad you're finally giving me a chance to talk here, lawrence, because town hall meetings in district seven are uplifting and positive because -- >> congressman, i'm sorry, we
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have to go. >> honor and integrity. >> we have to go. go look up that 1965 medicare statute. it might surprise you. it is a socialistic program. thank you. newt gingrich has a six-point plan for success for ex-alaska governor sarah palin. details next on the "sideshow." you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. racheting up slowly )
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back to "hardball." type for the scheide sew. first up michele bachmann is back in action. she continues to raise the bar for bizarre behavior this. week she put out a fund-raising e-mail with the subject line, don't let them palinize me taching the urban dictionary definition of palinize, quote, to smear or mock someone using falsehoods, baseless accusations, or unsubstantiated
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character assassinations. so why would she be palinized? according to bachmann, with governor palin taking a well-deserved step out of the spotlight, it appears i may be absorbing even more of the liberal scorn. don't worry, congresswoman, i am betting that sarah palin won't stay out of the spotlight much longer. speaking of which, former house speaker newt gingrich has some unsolicited advice for the ex-goffer of alaska. he gave politico.com his six-point plan for a 2012 palin comeback. she's already got the first one down, writing a book. next, land a regular commentator spot on television. he also says palin should get a condo in new york or washington and master three types of speeches, what newt calls the money making speech, the brand making policy speech, and, of course, the campaign stump speech. pampl should create some sort of national project or center or something like that, and newt would have her working really, really hard on this plan now,
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but sarah, be careful of newt's advice because, you know, he wants to be the next president of united states, too. up next, the john edwards' scandal continues to provide drama. did he use campaign funds to buy the silence 6 his former mistress in you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. it can be tough living with copd... but i try not to let it slow me down. i go down to theool for a swim... get out and dance... even play a little hide-n-seek. i'm breathing better... with spiriva. announcer: spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled maintenance treatment for both forms of copd... which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. i take it every day. it keeps my airways open... to help me breathe better all day long. and it's not a steroid. announcer: spiriva does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. stop taking spiriva and call your doctor if your breathing suddenly worsens, your throat or tongue swells, you get hives, or have vision changes or eye pain. tell your doctor if you have glaucoma,
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i'm julia boorstin with your cnbc market wrap. a disappointing report on consumers' mood dragged markets lower snapping a four-week winning streak. the dow jones industrials are down 76 points for the day, and 50 points for the week. the s&p 500 lost 8 points and 9 nasdaq fell almost 24 points to finish the week back below 2,000. u.s. consumer confidence fell more than expected in early august. consumers are increasingly worried about their own personal
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financial swayiituations. shares in jcpenney skidded after a lower than expected net loss with a gloomy outlook for the rest of the year. nordstrom shares also fell. same store sales fell more than 12%. that's it from cnbc, first in business worldwide. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." one year ago john edwards admitted to abc news that he had had an affair with rielle hunter but denied he was the father of her baby. edwards said, it's not possible that this child could be mine because of the timing of events. happy to take a paternity test
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and would love to see it happen. today wral in raleigh reports that sources have told them that they expect edwards to finally admit that he is the father of his former mistress' 18-month-old daughter. what a difference a year makes. with us now, slate's mikey kaus and democratic xran strategist steve mack man. steve mcmahon, democratic party voters showed their wisdom i thought when they had their chance in the primaries keeping edwards nowhere close to the top. i have to say through almost all of his career i thought he was the emptiest of the empty suits on the democratic side of the aisle and your party has got to be pretty lucky he didn't get anywhere last year. >> well, i tell what you, you're absolutely right. i can only imagine what would have happened. he wasn't very far off in iowa. he finished third in iowa. right up until the end there were a lot of people who thought john eds woords was right in it. had he been the winner it might have been a different story for
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him and probably for the country. i can't imagine this affair and these circumstances that we're talking about tonight would have gone undiscovered by the republican attack machine. it's a very good thing he got out when he did. >> mickey kaus, this for me, and i know for you, is as much a story of the failure of the press as it is a story of the failure of john edwards. this guy was given an incredible pass even after the story originally broke. what was that about? was there some elizabeth edwards shielding -- sympathy shielding going on with the press? >> well, totally. first there was the standard liberal bias we always argue about, and, second, nobody wanted to punish this woman who they actually liked and in many cases actually knew any more by delivering the bad news of her husband's infidelity. there was a whole protect elizabeth sort of movement which she, of course, stoked to protect her husband. it was pretty shameful performance on the part of the press. >> and it seemed to me to be a pretty obvious story.
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i had my own insight into it because i actually know rielle hunter. i haven't talked to her in decades, but i met her a long time ago and knew her for a while. and i have friends who are very close to her who were reporting early on there's no doubt about this. none of her friends had any doubt about who the father of that child was, and she wasn't promoting any doubt among her friends about who the father of that child was. and, mickey, it didn't seem to me, knowing what i knew, it didn't seem to me it would be very hard for the press if they wanted to spend, oh, you know, a day and a half on this, to penetrate the wall. >> no. it was the worst kept secret on the eastern seaboard. i'm not a great reporter. if i found out about it, how hard would it have been for somebody else to find out about it? keep in mind, this is even in his confession speech last year before the democratic convention, he told the whole second edifice of lies about how it was only a short affair in 2006 when in fact it had lasted into 2007, which is how he could be the father of this child.
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and to me the interesting question is how in on it was elizabeth? >> steve mack man, for democrats or politicians generally the rule established by the clintons as far as i can tell is, adultery is okay as long as your wife says it's okay. meaning, if your wife is willing to go up on the stage and say in effect as hillary said, it's okay with me, let's all move beyond this, but this involved something else, this involved a child, and this involved a politician denying his child, and beyond that it involved him in effect apparently lying to his own children that they have a sibling out there that he is pretending does not exist. i mean, this is an issue that goes far beyond adultery, isn't it? >> oh, absolutely. i mean, the real question here is is it arrogance or is it stupidity that is sort of taking a lead here because it's clearly both. but one of them is trumping the other. i think the question of whether
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or not and under what circumstances a reporter would reveal this is an interesting one because, as you know, lawrence, in the law there's a presumption that the -- that a husband and wife, that the child of that husband and wife is the child of that union and when you have rielle and i can't remember the gentleman's name who said he was the father, it would be interesting to know whether or not the same presumption exists. i think you're right, the press could have pierced this very easily if they could have gotten a source, but obviously nobody got a source on the record who was willing to say it or i'm sure it would have been written. >> well, the "enquirer" did and people weren't taking them to be reporting facts. edwards did get one of his campaign operatives to say i am the father of the child. that campaign operative was married and had children of his own at the time. it was an idiotic story from minute one. it was -- there was nothing acceptable about it on its face. how would this have been treated if this was a republican
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candidate for president trying to get away with this? >> well, i think it would have been excoriated -- the republican would have been excoriated especially if he was a guy like governor sanford who seemed moralistic and christian. it was so idiotic, some reporters told me it's so idiotic it has to be true. nobody would fess up to fathering the child unless it was true because their kids are going to be made fun of at school. no aide would do that for their boss. >> all right, thank you mickey kaus and steve mcmahon. mickey kaus and irnot surprised bithis news today at all. up next, bill clinton tries to rally support for president obama's health care reform after failing at his own reform efforts more than a decade ago. "the politics fix" is next. this is "hardball" ohm on msnbc. ( siren blaring ) special interest groups are trying to block progress msnbc. on health care reform, derailing the debate with myths and scare tactics.
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desperately trying to stop you from discovering that reform won't ration care. you and your doctor will always decide the best treatment for you. tell congress not to let myths get in the way of fixing what's broken with health care. learn the facts at healthactionnow.org. [ engine powers down ] gentlemen, you booked your hotels on orbitz. well, the price went down, so you're all getting a check thanks. for the difference. except for you -- you didn't book with orbitz, so you're not getting a check. well, i think we've all learned a valuable lesson today. good day, gentlemen. thanks a lot. thank you. introducing hotel price assurance, ere if another orbitz customer books the same hotel for less, we send you a check for the difference, automatically. coming up, the president goes on one more media blitz to save health care reform. will it work? when "hardball" returns.
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we are back. time now for "the politics fix" with jeanne cummings of poll lit co-and "the washington post's" anne kornblut. let's listen to what bill clinton had to say stumping for obama's health care reform. >> i'm telling you, i don't care how low they drive support for this with misinformation, the minute the president signs a health care reform bill, approval will go up because americans are inherently optimistic. secondly, within a year, within
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a year when all those bad things they say are going to happen don't happen and the good things do begin to happen, approval will explode. >> anne, should the obama white house be taking advice from the biggest failure in the history of the health care reform crusades of the past? >> well, i mean, in a sense they already are taking the advice by trying to do the opposite of what the clintons did. they left it to the congress to come up with their own plan. they've obviously moved very quickly on it and said anyway they're going to conduct it much more openly and transparently than the clintons z in some senses they sort of are doing the opposite. you know, i think the former president clinton is trying to be a good team player in all of this and what else is he going to say. it does lead the question if he does not pass health care reform is obama's popularity going to drop? he may be setting the bar there for the president's success or failure. >> jeanne cummings, bill clinton did not pass health care reform, got completely wiped out, and the voters didn't mind that at
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all when it came for his re-election. what it seemed happened in the congress was the congress was that the congress actually ended up scaring the public enough about what they were intending to do with health care reform that he rejected the democrats in the midterm election and brought in the republicans to win majority in both houses. but the president himself escaped any negative verdict by trying to push health care and failing. is that possible with barack obama? >> well, it's boss fibl he ends up with a great, big government shutdown in between the two events. one of the big reasons clinton survived is because the national debate moved on and the republican congress suddenly became as scary as the health care reform debate. so given some big, seismic change in between, president obama may indeed get re-elected and not pay a price. however, you know, as much as president clinton did not succeed with health care reform,
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he is instinctively still one of our smartest politicians. and i'm not sure the poll numbers would go up because people are optimistic but they may well go up because there are probably some democrats and independents now who are very frustrated that nothing is moving in washington when they see action -- those poll numbers could turn around. and he's right, i do think if time goes by and horrible thing don't happen, the independents will come around as well. i do also think that if obama fails, that this will be a turning point for him. because in all likelihood, cap and trade and the energy bill will be next in line and it could set off a really hard downhill slide for his administration. >> go ahead, ann. >> i would add to that, i think jeanne's exactly right and i think the administration knows it. this is a high-stakes game. that's why they're treating it like that. that's why it's pretty much the only thing on the agenda that was previously packed with many things. this is now it.
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i think they recognize they've gotten away with no major foreign policy crises or any other unexpected crises. that's not going to last foreverry i think they know this has to work or that it's really going to -- he will really suffer for it. >> ann, if there are a majority of voters when they get down to october, november, when they're trying to vote on a final passage of this thing, let's say, if there is a majority of voters who are oy posed to what the congress and president obama are trying to do, and they then -- and the congress then passes it and obama finds something that a majority of voters are opposed to, exactly how would obama benefit with voters by signing something that they were opposed to? >> well, obviously he wouldn't. i think that would presume they have failed to define it in a way that voters would embrace. i mean, that's why the communications plan, what he's trying to do at these town halls, what he's trying to do in recapturing the message they've lost control of over the last few weeks, is so important. whatever they pass, whatever congress ultimately winds up
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settling on, he's got to figure out how to convince people to support it so he does not wind up in that situation you just described. >> we'll be back for more of "the politics fix." (marco andretti) i race to wi i know when it's the perfect time to change my tires. when it comes to shaving i know when to change my blade. (announcer) gillette fusion's indicator strip fades to white when it may be time to change. fresh blade. better shave.
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bill clinton spoke at the net root nation conference in pittsburgh last night and pushed
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back at someone who shouted him down for his don't ask, don't tell policy. let's take a look. >> in order for them to join that debate, they have to abandon -- [ inaudible shouting ] >> you ought to go to one of those congressional health care meetings. you'd do really well there. you want to talk about don't ask, don't tell? i'll tell you exactly what happened. you couldn't deliver me any support in the congress. and they voted by veto-proof majority in both houses against my attempts to let gays serve in the military. and the media supported them. they raised all kinds of devilment. and all most of you did was to attack me instead of getting me some support in the congress. now, that's the truth. >> anne kornblut, a classic bill clinton version of history. it was